Sostane Blog


Archives for the ‘Discussions’



Seattle January Meeting: Home Assessment

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Wendy was kind enough to open up her home for Gina’s presentation of an sample home assessment by Green Diamond Consulting. Wendy also runs Childish Things in Crown Hill/Greenwood. Thank you so much to both of you for your time and donations!

The Assessment

Instead of focusing on the home, Gina actually perfers to focus on how you are living your life and what makes the most sense to tackle first so it means the most to you. Some basics of looking at what you are eating (less red meat, organics, cooking from home) to how you are commuting, she can help you examine which areas can give the biggest impact.

Our exercise was to come up with one goal that we would like to tackle in the next month or so. And then to achieve this goal, she had us step back and write down the steps to getting to our goal. After looking at it as a serious of baby steps, the goal looked highly achievable! Thanks Gina!

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Starting in the Kitchen

Many recommendations can start in one of the most used rooms of the house–the kitchen. Looking at energy saving appliances, using a dishwasher instead of hand washing, making sure your refrigerator coils are clean, warming foods on the stove instead of the microwave (we all agreed that food stayed hot longer from the stove), looking through your cleaners for safe alternatives, biodegradable trash bags, fabric towels/napkins, composting, less packaging and which plastic numbers to avoid, and more.

Terracycle
Washington Toxics Coalition
EO Hand Sanitizer
Jubilee Farm CSA
Green America (formerly Coop America)
Goods for the Planet
Nature’s Path

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Attending Sisters: Kathleen, Masa, Gina, Wendy, Stephanie, Emily, Sarah, Jessica, Julia and Kaytlyn. Thanks again to everyone who could make it. It was great to have a private space to talk freely and connect with others.


Discussion: Poverty


Written for Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty. Last year the subject was Environment.

To tackle the issue of poverty is no small feat. After thinking about it and wallowing around in the sadness of it, it’s time to pick yourself up by your bootstraps and do something about it. Personally, I think the power of education, compassion and encouragement will lead to a real improvement in poverty. Whether it’s here in the US or abroad, I feel there are some basic fundamentally similar solutions that we can all participate in.

So what can I do? What can we do? I went out on a search to see what affects I could cause locally and globally. Some of the key influences that you can give to are donations of food, time and money to help fight the cause.

Locally

• Donate to your local food bank
• Volunteer to tutor a child
• Donate to your local school lunch program
• Volunteer for the Big Brothers, Big Sisters
• Donate books
• Write to your elected officials
• Just volunteer

Globally

• Donate to Grameen Foundation
• Donate a cow, goat or rabbit
• Donate to Kiva
• Donate to One.org
• Donate to Make Poverty History
• Donate to an organization of your choice
Educate and sponsor
• Don’t buy stuff that’s not made with fair trade and worker’s rights in mind:


What else can we do? Do you have any suggestions? What will you do? Tell us.


Discussion: Is it time for a trade and barter system?

The financial news has not been good in the last few weeks. Honestly, I understand a little about how panic is spreading, people are selling and the government is trying to flood the economy with more money they don’t have. But I am not an economist, a financial planner or an accountant, so I don’t know exactly what this all means. I just know it’s not good and we are going to have to spend some time digging ourselves back out of this.

I also know that my clients, friends and family are all feeling the pinch. Purchasing is at an all-time low for us. How badly does my family need this? What can I live without right now? It’s a lean and mean budget we are sporting these days.

So in this time of frugalness, and as I meet more fellow sisters, I have found myself trading services and products more often. Of course, all of this has to be put on the books as income, but the freedom to actually talk to someone to work out a trade instead of paying them is actually working quite well. When it’s stuff I need and not frivolous.

So many of you have asked if Sostane could find a way to create a barter and trade system within our group. A very good idea and I am all for exploring the idea on how it could work. At this very moment, you are all welcome to contact each other and see if that would be an option. We could add an icon to all member profiles who want to partake in barter or trading. In terms of being responsible for parties who do not fulfill their end of the deal? For now, that is going to be entirely up to you; ie a contract, a mediator or a lawyer. A simple contract and getting it down on paper can do wonders…

We are in no way endorsing or recommending these web sites below, but this is what we have found so far.

LocalBucks
seaVu
BizXchange and a BizJournal on them
ITEX Seattle
Craigs List
UsedEverywhere.com
Freecycle.org

Community Harvest of Southwest Seattle
Solid Ground
Lettuce Link

Seattle blogger barters for art and the stories behind the pieces, by the Seattle Times
Community Currency, by Seattle Wiki
Solid Ground’s Food Resources Programs Connect Community Surplus With Community Need, by WorldChanging

Do you know of any others? What has worked for you? Have you had a bad experience with them? Please leave your thoughts on the subject.


Discussion: How can others see your value at work or with your business?

For most women, we have struggled with our self worth. Should I take a day at the spa because “I’m worth it” or should I ask for a raise because “I’m worth it.” I don’t think it’s unusual and probably crosses gender lines, but personally, I think women are more susceptible to questioning it and even not allowing us to receive according to what we are worth.

Whether you work for a company and negotiate a salary or hourly rate, sell products at a price point, or offer services at an hourly or per project rate, you need to evaluate what it’s worth to you. Even if it’s a product, you are still selling your brand, image and company values.

Speaking from a services business, I have recently switched from an hourly rate to a per project rate. For years, I have been using an hourly rate that has increased as I have gotten better, quicker and knowledgeable about my industry. But then how to my clients value what I have created for them since my work has helped them increase their business profit, image and customer relationships? Am I just viewed as an employee, a freelancer, a technical specialist or consultant?

In my experience, not all projects are the same. I am always learning or creating something new. But they can have many similarities. Let’s assume I have two projects for two clients back to back and they are as similar as they can be. The first project made me learn quite a few new skills and ultimately took a certain amount of hours that I eventually billed for. The second project comes along and knowing the skills I do now, takes 3 hours less than the first client. So for two projects that I created for them, the end products being similar enough to call the “same,” why did the first client have to be paid more? Because it was done sooner?

I am not saying there is a perfect answer as each industry, product, service, job, company, etc. are different along with what the market demands. But it does make you stop and think what value did that project/service/product provide for my customer?

Each of us is unique. Each of our ideas and skills are unique. Who we know and how we do it is unique. So what we offer to others is unlike what anyone else can give. And we have to let everyone know.

How do we do that? This is where our writing and speaking skills come to the forefront. In writing (brochure, resume, website) we need to convey how we have helped others in the past, what our key experiences have been and how we have solved problems. In person, we need to connect with the interview or new customer by connecting, relating, offering options and advice. Women connect emotionally if we realize that we are talking and feeling the same way.

Please do not get this confused with offering a free consultation. I have been giving out free consultations since I started my business, but realized only recently how dangerous this can be. When offering free advice, make sure you don’t go too far to the point where you are handing over the “keys” to let them drive themselves. This is a professional consultation that you should charge for and not free advice. A free consultation is really a “getting to know each other” type of interview where you need to stay vague with who you know and how their problems can be solved.

By all means, you do want to show your confidence in being able to complete their job, or offer them the right product. But telling them they can get the same thing down the street for even cheaper? That’s not really going to help you. And no one is ever hired because they were the perfect candidate, had the absolute best qualifications and looked the best on paper. People are hired because of the personal connections they make with other people.

So what do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? What have been your experiences in showing, talking and feeling your own value in what you can offer to others? Have you found it hard? Easy? Please leave your thoughts on the subject.